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Frisky Larr (MA)
Journalist/Interpreter
Author of the book “Nigeria’s Journalistic Militantism” probing into the poor role of Journalism in Nigeria! ISBN: 9781456777906.
Bochum, Germany
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The BPE Probe & Obasanjo: Its Bashing Time again!

 

Southern collaborators like the respectable and adorable Femi Falana jumping aboard the anti-Obasanjo bandwagon should be cautious and be very sure to have credible and actionable facts handy that are worthy of standing judicial tests before continuing this outdated cry for the crucifixion of Olusegun Obasanjo. President Jonathan should ensure that his choice of Presidential spokesman found in Reuben Abati does a better job of countering El-Rufai’s propaganda machine. Else, enough is enough and old Obasanjo should be left in peace to continue contributing his quota to the well being of the nation as an elder statesman, no matter whose feet he had stepped upon while serving as President.


Frisky Larr is author of the book “Nigeria’s Journalistic Militantism” probing into the poor role of Journalism in Nigeria! ISBN: 9781456777906.

Let us face it squarely. Nothing short of a breakthrough in the power sector, major achievements in water supply and road construction can rescue the government of President Goodluck Jonathan from being an insignificant page in the history book of Nigeria. So numerous are the chains of mistake that he has made so far at this nascent stage of his judicially contested Presidency.

 

Paramount amongst his controversial decisions in my opinion, is his order to get Nuhu Ribadu and Nasir El-Rufai back to Nigeria from their self-imposed exile. Having brought them back home, President Jonathan conspicuously refused (for some incomprehensible reasons) to integrate them into his administration in spite of their known credentials. Some claim that the President sought to avoid the type of controversies generated by both men in the Presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo since they both have the reputation of being polarizing figures while others claim that the President simply feared being outshined by the charisma of the duo.

Whatever the truth may be, the fact at the moment is that Nasir El-Rufai has become an infamous intellectual arrowhead of the northern elite avowed to destabilizing and dislodging the government of Goodluck Jonathan. A tea party mentality has been quietly launched by the northern enemies of Goodluck Jonathan to ensure that he does not serve beyond one term in the Presidential palace. A smart counter-move of proposing constitutional amendment to allow for a single six-year term is so far serving as a potent threat to take the wind off the sails of the destabilizer.

In all of these though, Nasir El-Rufai is standing firm as an unrelenting factor in throwing wedges between the sprinting feet of Jonathan’s administration. Jonathan’s closeness to former President Olusegun Obasanjo is obviously not doing him any good in this respect. The President however, seems to be holding on to a principled position by making no public move to desecrate Olusegun Obasanjo or throw a distance between them both as his predecessor late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua did to appease his tribal constituency. Still, his enemies are stopping at nothing to drag him down even if it means dislodging his perceived mentor, President Olusegun Obasanjo for a humble beginning.

Nasir El-Rufai hit the headlines lately for his so-called “spectacular” testimony before the senate committee investigating the ills of the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE). Media reports have so far uncovered that several testimonies before the committee have fingered the choices and decisions made by Olusegun Obasanjo during his Presidency as being responsible for the problems that have trailed the BPE till the present day and the failure of the privatization process that sought to anchor a liberal economic policy on the nation.

El-Rufai has suggested that the privatization of some companies ordered by Olusegun Obasanjo were incompetently prepared against all good counsels. Those done by Nasir El-Rufai independently without deep presidential involvement were suggested to be thriving and yielding fruitful economic dividends also till the present day.

But these charges of incompetent decisions alone have been sufficient to burst some swelling bubbles. Subtle grudges in all guises are now being carried into the open air in the clad of expertise and insider knowledge. Virtually everyone who has a word to say is not short of abuses on Olusegun Obasanjo. El-Rufai’s testimony is now being termed “spectacular revelations”. Even a former military Governor who, in his days in military service, may not have been qualified to serve as Obasanjo’s shoe-shiner, is now calling for the prosecution of Olusegun Obasanjo.

It is an old fight in a new terrain, advanced by tireless soldiers, who will stop at nothing until their victim lies motionless. The Obasanjo-Bashing machine has gained momentum once again.

While every independent observer will welcome the idea of a judicial inquiry, if not outright prosecution of former President Olusegun Obasanjo for the plain reason of establishing the simple truth, the underlying facts must be compelling enough to justify the expenditure of the tax-payer’s money on judicial adventurism. For one, if every past leader of Nigeria is to be subjected to judicial inquiries and prosecution for incompetent decisions taken while in office, all former leaders (Shehu Shagari, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar and Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in post-mortem capacity) should have been sentenced to prison if not death by firing squad for wrong decisions taken while nothing positive was achieved to move the country forward. Indeed, George W. Bush should have been in prison for taking the decision to take America to war against Iraq.

Moreover, while leaders are expected to do their jobs right for all the pay that they take home, public officers remain human and like everyone of us, errors of judgment in the choices that they make are simply a part of what their service is all about. While we seek to keep such errors at their barest minimum, we do not seek to make such leaders super-human no matter what they conceive of themselves. The crucial watershed should then be to distinguish between an error in good faith and an error committed with the intention to harm the interest of the nation.

Until a clear circumstantial pointer is provided for the latter option, calls for the prosecution of President Obasanjo will remain what they are: Political activism in the quest for contemporary relevance. After all, like every other leader before him, the academic qualification held by Olusegun Obasanjo was known to the entire nation before he was elected President. While this should not serve as an excuse for failure to deliver in the challenging office that President Obasanjo took up voluntarily without being forced, it is common knowledge too that a President called Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chukwuma Soludo or Pat Utomi would have had little plausible excuse to offer for making the wrong choices in a privatization process.

If all these facts are known, – above all to the media – the motives of vocal critics should be called to question at the very least. While every voice is adding its own bit to the raging inferno of character assassination, some voices declared pity and sympathy for Olusegun Obasanjo recently. They claim that Nasir El-Rufai had been seen as the last man standing by Obasanjo while all erstwhile presidential friends have deserted him. The express dismay that Nasir El-Rufai will now be throwing stones at Olusegun Obasanjo, unfairly.

Other views express the fear that the senate committee was itself created to target the demise of Nasir El-Rufai without providing evidence on why and how the man should be targeted in the first place. Even if the concession is granted that a bit of truism may be in all assertions as there is hardly any smoke without fire except the electronically-generated dancehall smokes, there is no doubt that Nasir El-Rufai would have sung a completely different tune from another hymnbook altogether if he was testifying before the senate committee in his capacity as a member of the Jonathan administration.

While this cannot be the overriding excuse to have El-Rufai in the Jonathan administration, there is no doubt that the man is a rare product of the northern intellectual base with quite a huge reservoir of positive ideas up his sleeves if given the proper challenging task. Unlike Nuhu Ribadu who is simply forthright and duty-conscious, El-Rufai has the superior intellectual stock in addition to the qualities that Nuhu Ribadu has. How President Jonathan could have allowed such materials to waste away by the roadside during his administration, still beats my imagination.

That being said, it is definitely not difficult to understand the frustrations of Naisr El-Rufai. Nuhu Ribadu has retreated to the background after a failed presidential bid that has exposed him to the limelight for future undertakings. Struggling to maintain the spotlight on himself, Nasir El-Rufai has chosen to tread a dangerous path of shifting alliances that may portray a sense of treachery and egocentrism. Goodluck Jonathan was a good guy yesterday while Muhammadu Buari was a bad guy. Today, it’s the direct opposite. A former good friend in exile was suddenly not good enough to be supported for the presidency. Today, Nasir El-Rufai leads the intellectual fight against the serving President, who he once declared to have liked. A fight launched on a divisive tribal platform that threatens the existence of the country. The public watches and an image is gradually being nurtured. Images that may count on a final day of reckoning.

Striking out at Olusegun Obasanjo with the collateral impact of weakening Goodluck Jonathan may be a serious and dangerous gamble if truly intended. Voluble critics calling from their ‘northern rooftop’ for the prosecution and beheading of Olusegun Obasanjo for incompetent decisions taken during his presidency, suddenly forget that vehement calls were made only ‘yesterday’ from the same ‘northern rooftop’ to make governance impossible for Goodluck Jonathan in view of the perceived breach of the zoning arrangement. These critics seem to forget that public memory is fitted with some natural archives of sort.

Southern collaborators like the respectable and adorable Femi Falana jumping aboard the anti-Obasanjo bandwagon should be cautious and be very sure to have credible and actionable facts handy that are worthy of standing judicial tests before continuing this outdated cry for the crucifixion of Olusegun Obasanjo. President Jonathan should ensure that his choice of Presidential spokesman found in Reuben Abati does a better job of countering El-Rufai’s propaganda machine. Else, enough is enough and old Obasanjo should be left in peace to continue contributing his quota to the well being of the nation as an elder statesman, no matter whose feet he had stepped upon while serving as President.

Frisky Larr is author of the book “Nigeria’s Journalistic Militantism” probing into the poor role of Journalism in Nigeria! ISBN: 9781456777906.

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